Category Archives: Family & Work

Not In Labor: An Interview With Jenny Brown

Source: Liza Featherstone, Jacobin, April 23, 2019

In 2017, the birth rate in the United States reached an all-time low. In her new book Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work (PM Press), activist and author Jenny Brown argues that declining birth rates represent a work slowdown, or strike, in the face of the poor conditions for those who do the labor of bearing and raising children.

Like many of the classic texts of the Second Wave feminist movement, Brown’s book is her own, yet also a collective, intellectual endeavor, growing out of her organizing work with Redstockings and National Women’s Liberation, including those groups’ discussions and consciousness raising sessions….

Child Care Supply by Congressional District

Source: Leila Schochet and Rasheed Malik, Center for American Progress, April 10, 2019

When families have access to high-quality, affordable child care, they thrive. Parents can work to provide for their families, knowing their children are safe; and young children can learn and explore, creating a solid foundation for future learning and development.

Yet many families struggle because they cannot afford or find child care. High-quality child care is expensive to provide, and without public investment, those costs are passed along to parents. As a result, half of Americans live in child care deserts, communities where there are not enough licensed child care providers to serve the population of young children who need child care.

Increasing access to affordable, quality child care and making sure parents have options to choose from requires both Congress and elected state officials to provide more public funding for child care. It is critical to address the nation’s child care shortage without sacrificing program quality or endangering child safety just to cut costs. Congress can act by increasing funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and passing comprehensive reform that address affordability, quality, and higher wages for early educators.

Find your district using the dropdowns below:….

The Child Care Crisis Is Keeping Women Out of the Workforce

Source: Leila Schochet, Center for American Progress, March 28, 2019

More mothers would increase their earnings and seek new job opportunities if they had greater access to reliable and affordable child care. ….

….This report highlights the relationship between child care and maternal employment and underscores how improving child care access has the potential to boost employment and earnings for working mothers. Based on new analysis of the 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey (ECPP), it demonstrates how families are having difficulty finding child care under the current system and how lack of access to child care may be keeping mothers out of the workforce. The report then presents results from a national poll conducted by the Center for American Progress and GBA Strategies, which asked parents what career decisions they would make if child care were more readily available and affordable. Finally, the report outlines federal policy solutions that are crucial to supporting mothers in the workforce. ….

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, February 24, 2019

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising identity, transcendence, and community, but failing to deliver.

…. The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism. ….

The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts

Source: Heidi Steinour, The Conversation, February 22, 2019

The cost of having children in the U.S. has climbed exponentially since the 1960s. So it’s no wonder the growing crop of Democratic presidential candidates have been proposing ways to address or bring down the costs tied to raising a family.

Most recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she wants to provide universal access to child care. According to her proposal, the U.S. would partner with local governments and other organizations to provide various child care options, paying for it with revenue from her wealth tax.

Whether or not Warren’s proposal becomes law, the data show a worsening problem. In 2015, American parents spent, on average, US$233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17, not including college. This number covers everything from housing and food to child care and transportation costs. This is up 8 percent from 1990.

As a mother myself, as well as a sociologist who studies families, I have experienced firsthand the unexpected costs associated with having a child. And this spike in costs has broad implications, including leading fewer families to have children…..

Understanding What Eldercare Means for Employees and Organizations: A Review and Recommendations for Future Research

Source: Katrina A Burch Alicia G Dugan Janet L Barnes-Farrell, Work, Aging and Retirement, Volume 5, Issue 1, 18 January 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The purpose of this article is to provide a contemporary, globally focused, multidisciplinary review of the existing literature on eldercare responsibilities and the implications of these responsibilities for working adults and organizations, taking a multilevel perspective. Two major reviews of the impact of eldercare responsibilities on work for employed informal caregivers have been conducted in the past 25 years. However, an update to the extant literature is warranted given that prior reviews have not taken a holistic perspective in understanding eldercare for employees and organizations. In addition, a number of empirical articles about work and informal elder caregiving have been published across multiple disciplines since these reviews were written. Utilizing and extending the work in prior reviews, we propose a model to serve as an organizing framework for understanding the informal eldercare process. Our model includes antecedents to—and consequences of—informal eldercare responsibilities and identifies components of a feedback loop. We also include a discussion of the resources available at the individual, family/social, organizational, and community levels that are available and useful in managing informal elder caregiving and paid employment. Finally, we identify gaps in the extant literature and provide recommendations for future research.

Treading Water: The Current Challenges of Women’s Work

Source: Shilpa Phadke and Diana Boesch, Center for American Progress, January 18, 2019

…. This column reviews how women’s work is segmented and undervalued; how workers at the margins—such as domestic workers, farm laborers, part-time workers, and gig economy workers—face persistent barriers and inequality; and how policymakers must prioritize centering workers’ voices and holistic needs and experiences as they craft meaningful economic policy. While this column does not detail the myriad ways in which women often struggle to maintain their economic security to the detriment of their health, it is important to emphasize that women do not live their lives in silos, and access to a range of programs and policies, such as comprehensive reproductive health services, as well as access to affordable education and skills-based learning, are critical to women’s economic success. ….

Posts of Professors Holding Babies in Class Often Go Viral. Is That the Reality of Students With Kids?

Source: Cailin Crowe, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 19, 2018

…. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Columbia College, in South Carolina, saw similar stories. In each case the professor was praised for selflessly offering to watch a student’s baby in lieu of professional child care. While the professor’s generosity was commendable, the posts also highlighted the unmet demand for child care on campuses.

The posts go viral because they illustrate a systemic problem, said Barbara Gault, vice president and executive director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. People understand that colleges and universities don’t always recognize the caregiving responsibilities of students who are also parents. “It’s a statement about something bigger,” she said.

More than 25 percent of college students are parents of dependent children, according to the institute. However, the idea that colleges and universities should provide child care is still a fairly new concept, Gault said. ….

…. One obvious solution is on-campus day-care centers. For example, at Monroe Community College, in New York, student parents of young children at the campus’s day-care center have on-time graduation rates three times as high as student parents who did not use the center.

But on many campuses, including the institutions where some of those feel-good viral stories have taken place, the reality for students who have kids in need of child care is much different. ….

Providing for a Family in the Working Class: Gender and Employment After the Birth of a Child

Source: Janette Dill, Adrianne Frech, Social Forces, Advance Articles, December 12, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Navigating the labor market in today’s economy has become increasingly difficult for those without a college degree. In this study, we ask whether and how working-class men and women in the United States are able to secure gains in wages and/or earnings as they transition to parenthood or increase family size. We look closely at child parity, employment behavior (e.g., switching employers, taking on multiple jobs, increasing hours), and occupation in the year after the birth of a child. Using the 2004 and 2008 panels of the Survey for Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we employ fixed-effects models to examine the impact of changing labor market behavior or occupation on wages and earnings after the birth of a child. We find limited evidence that low- and middle-skill men experience a “fatherhood premium” after the birth of a child, conditional on child parity and occupation. For men, nearly all occupations were associated with a “wage penalty” after the birth of a child (parity varies) compared to the service sector. However, overall higher wages in many male-dominated and white-collar occupations make these better options for fathers. For women, we see clear evidence of a “motherhood penalty,” which is partly accounted for by employment behaviors, such as switching to a salaried job or making an occupational change.

Did California Paid Family Leave Impact Infant Health?

Source: Ariel Marek Pihl, Gaetano Basso, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 38 Issue 1, Winter 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The effects of paid parental leave policies on infant health have yet to be established. In this paper we investigate these effects by exploiting the introduction of California Paid Family Leave (PFL), the first program in the U.S. that specifically provides working parents with paid time off for bonding with a newborn. We measure health using the full census of infant hospitalizations in California and a set of control states, and implement a differences‐in‐differences approach. Our results suggest a decline in infant admissions, which is concentrated among those causes that are potentially affected by closer childcare (and to a lesser extent breastfeeding). Other admissions that are unlikely to be affected by parental leave do not exhibit the same pattern.